Science Scoops: Mount Everest Tops Itself

How can the tallest mountain on Earth beat its own height record? Simple—it's growing! In May 1998, American mountain climber Wally Berg of Copper Mountain, Colorado, successfully made it to the top of Mount Everest and placed a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver within 18 meters of the mountain's summit. Five days later, another climber retrieved it. When the results were compared to data from other GPS equipment around the mountain, researchers discovered that Everest is growing taller at a rate of up to 5 centimeters per year!

How is that possible? The mountain grows as the Indian continental plate slams into Asia's, pushing the Himalayan mountain chain ever upward at the seam.

Currently, Everest stands at 8,848 meters—and that figure is unlikely to change over the long run because erosion at the summit will compromise any growth.

Vocabulary

  • summit: The highest point or part.

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Activity

  1. What two factors contribute to the changing height of Mount Everest?
  2. Is the height of Mt. Everest changing slowly or quickly? Write a sentence or two to explain your answer.
  3. What might the weather conditions at the summit of Mt. Everest be like?